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Are you aware that being diabetic puts you at risk for vision threatening eye damage? According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is the number one cause of blindness among individuals between 20 and 74. One of the risks of diabetes is when the retina is damaged by excessive pressure in the blood vessels of the eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes severe vision impairment and even blindness. Anyone with the disease is at risk and it has affected over 3.7 million people in America over the past decade. This number is expected to reach 11 million cases by 2030.

Early on, diabetic retinopathy often presents no noticeable symptoms. Vision loss ultimately develops when the blood vessels in the retina begin to leak fluid, oil and small amounts of blood into the retina. If the disease is not detected, blood vessels could become blocked or new unwanted vessels may grow on the retina leading to permanent vision loss.

Warning signs of diabetic retinopathy include any kind of vision problems such as fluctuations, spots, shadows, double or blurred vision or pain. Diabetics are also at increased risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma due to the strain it causes on the eyes.

The risk of diabetic eye disease is higher when glucose levels are uncontrolled. Carefully monitoring your diabetes through diet, exercise and staying healthy and yearly eye exams is the best combination for preventing vision loss.

If you or a loved one has diabetes, be sure you are informed about the risks of diabetic retinopathy and other eye risks and consult with your eye doctor to discuss questions or concerns. In this case, knowledge really is the key to vision.